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The Colossus of Maroussi

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,699 ratings  ·  137 reviews
The Colossus of Maroussi is an impressionist travelogue by Henry Miller, written in 1939 and first published in 1941 by Colt Press of San Francisco. As an impoverished writer in need of rejuvenation, Miller travelled to Greece at the invitation of his friend, the writer Lawrence Durrell. The text is inspired by the events that occurred. The text is ostensibly a portrait of...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published January 17th 1975 by New Directions (first published 1941)
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This beautiful and nearly flawless travel memoir is marred by this unfortunate sentence on page 121: "On the way to the library, I made kaka in my pants." Wha? Here's this fabulous surreal narrative about Greece, and suddenly the narrator doesn't just shit himself, he "makes kaka?" Skip page 121.
Henry Martin
When he was not tackling sex and philosophy, Henry Miller traveled. The Colossus of Maroussi is a book of those later times, when he, an "American Savage", entered the world of peace, beauty, and most of all, simplicity he was longing for while living in America.

Nothing could prepare him for what he encountered in Greece, neither the streets of New York, nor the streets of Paris - as both paled in comparison. Although enamored with France, Miller's passion for Europe goes way farther in this bo...more
Henry Miller's reputation as a writer needs little verification from the likes of me. Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to be able to confirm the abilities of a truly great author. This example of his work is in some ways a peculiar one since it was written during a turning point in modern history, namely the Second World War, and was inevitably a turning point in Miller's own life as well.

Henry Miller has not always had kind things to say about his native U. S. A. Here, in "The Colossus of Marouss...more
Apr 02, 2007 Loran rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nick, but he's already read it.
Miller finally departs from his shock-therapy style of incorporating the obscene in order to leap from the earth, but in no way does this diminish his poise, as he frolicks for a year in Greece with Lawrence Durrell. This work is as fanciful and full of poppycock as any other great piece by the man whose work I love so dearly I had some of it tatooed on my belly... but here the often under-praised sooth-sayer concerns himself essentially with human happiness and the folly of self-imposed sufferi...more
This was the worst book I have read in months. Incoherent, the style disgusting, raving endlessly about everything and nothing at all. I had to skip pages all the time, there is no other way to read this book. I have heard he was quite a helpless writer and a pornographer, but I could not guess how really bad he actually is: he is unreadable.

As for Katsimbalis and his gang (the 30s generation) you won't get to learn a lot about them from this book - it simply does not deliver the goods. Very...more
Liza Bolitzer
I always think that i will like travel books when i return from traveling, but that has never been the case, especially when they are written by self centered wankers like Henry Miller.
On the Road in Greece.

Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration, but the sentiment is, I think, accurate. As does Kerouac in On the Road, Miller displays the same quickening to judgment, the same contempt for the bourgeois, the same obsession for the real. Greece to him is real. Unfortunately, the Greece that he sees is anything but. Miller falls in love with a vision of Greece that is as much made of present Greek poverty and past Greek myth. Part lengthy diatribe against modern civilization, part...more
Rick Skwiot
Some critics call "The Colossus of Maroussi"--Henry Miller`s account of his trip to Greece on the eve of World War II--the greatest travel book ever. But, like all great travel books, it's much more than mere depiction of beautiful landscapes, missed connections, bad weather, and surly waiters--though Miller recounts those as well. Rather, the book stands as a compelling paean to the Greek spirit, to liberty, and to life--as well as a barbaric yawp prefiguring the coming cataclysm.

The Canadian c...more
John David
On the recommendation of his friend and fellow author Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller set out for Greece in 1939. After a decade of frenzied writing in which both “Tropic of Cancer “and “Tropic of Capricorn” were composed, Miller’s intention was really nothing more than to relax in preparation for a journey to Tibet in which he planned to, in a popular phrase Miller himself would have despised, “find himself.”

“Colossus of Maroussi” is pure prosopography, which isn’t of course to say that he does...more
Sabra Embury
Driving through Big Sur from San Francisco to LA, I stopped by the Henry Miller Memorial Library and bought The Colossus of Maroussi; it was recommended by the shop-keep as "Miller's favorite work written by himself." Tropic of Cancer was already in my pile of to-read, road-trip-reading material after recommendations for its "dense, sexual force." So I figured: Why not a phase? I need to know more about Miller, and the subversive style which has made him a legend.

Colussus of Maroussi had me run...more
I'm so disappointed. What a hunk of junk. I don't know what this book is supposed to be, but a travel book, it is not. This is more like some self-centered, old-fashioned guy's philosophical blathering about a trip to Greece he took ages ago -- except it's not even interesting, nor is it funny, and it doesn't make a lick of sense. He goes on and on for paragraphs and paragraphs with no seeming point, and doesn't have anything interesting to say. The best thing I can say about this book is that t...more
I found much of this book unreadable. Occasional luminous passages and insights nestle between large swathes of nonsense in which Miller abuses the language. Self-centred, self-indulgent ramblings of a privileged white guy abroad. Gross.
Janez Hočevar
Miller's journey to Greece before the outbreak of the Second World War is a rough, poetic, cultural, philosophic hommage to Greece. It took me quite some time to grasp and comprehend what Miller wanted to say. His descriptions of Greece, of its people, of its art and of its past really compell the individual to ask himself/herself some important questions, like who we are, where are we going, what is our purpose in life. I have never experienced that in such a strong way like in Miller's Colossu...more
"Fu un viaggio nella luce. La terra era illuminata dalla propria luce interna. A Micene ho camminato sui morti incandescenti; a Epidauro ho sentito un silenzio così intenso che per una frazione di secondo ho udito battere il grande cuore del mondo e ho compreso il significato del dolore e della sofferenza; a Tirinto sono rimasto nell'ombra dell'uomo ciclopico e ho sentito la vampa dell'occhio interiore che ora è diventato una ghiandola malaticcia; ad Argo tutta la pianura era una nebbia infuocat...more
Michael sinkofcabbages
the greatest travel book ever written?? O.K, Invisible Cites is probably number one. But this is a close second. I know many people are not really into miller. He can get kind of tiring if read one after the other. But even if you dont care for Miller; you really should try this one. Those over-the-top rants he always has in his books are truely inspiring when applied to traveling. To see someone so in love with the spirit of a place is such a wonderful thing. But this is not one of those Miller...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Superb book. Miller is such a life affirming writer. His philosophy is totally out of step with American culture and it seems he found his spiritual home in Greece. Having visited Greece for the first time myself last year I agree with his sentiments about the place. The Greeks have mastered the art of living, and refuse to enslave themselves to the tyranny of materialism.

Miller is one of a kind. He is so open and forthright and seems to have few of the filters and restrictions the rest of have...more
Jul 28, 2008 Adam rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Adam by: Professor Ruf
Here I offer some of my insights on Miller's narrative based on what it contributes to the study or religious travel (not necessarily pilgrimage).

Anthropological research, when focused on studying other cultures, centered on the experiences of “fieldwork,” a task that led anthropologists to towns and villages in order to understand a “native” culture. (Clifford, 21-23) Despite these attempts, modern anthropologists have found flaws in this logic as a result of consistent interactions between gr...more
I don’t think books should be published just because the author is famous. “The Colossus of Maroussi” did to a large extent capture the Greek spirit and the wonderful ways of the Greek people but I had expected a lot more depth from a great writer with a great love for a great country. I particularly liked some of Miller’s descriptions of the Greek's sense of destiny and danger, and his ranting on Americans and the English is quite amusing. There is however too much rant, too little direction, a...more
LeeAnn Heringer
I have to admit that previously I've tried to read one of Henry Miller's "Tropics of…" and failed because it felt so dated. Yes, I know he was doing language experimentation and word jazz before any of the beats. But this travelogue of Greece made his riffs more relevant to me. He's very anti-capitalism, particularly as embodied by the corporation -- you could probably take some of the passages from this book and read them at a rally for the Occupy Movement or Blockage the Google Buses and if yo...more
Hardly anyone I have ever met, unless they are a serious Henry Miller devotee or an avid reader of Greek travelogues, has heard of this book.

It's a wild ride, demonstrating both the liveliness of the author, but also how alive the Greece and Greeks he knew were. My memory of it has faded over the something like 30 years (!) since I read it, but I still have a strong impression of light, of dancing, of the castigation of Germans, Americans, and Britons in favor of a more alive southern European...more
This is the only Henry Miller book I read that wouldn't be classified as pornography. Most of his books, nearly all autobiographical, contain detailed accounts of his many sexual escapades. Luckily, this one is different. His writing is beautiful. He mastered the non-fiction genre. At times, his thoughts soar through the heavens with truly enlightening spiritual insights. And at other times, he describes everyday events with true, vivid life. He's the master of real-life storytelling. When you r...more
Laura  Yan
I have very mixed feelings about Henry Miller--some of his short form fiction and essays are brilliant, but when it comes to a rambling travelogue like this, I am less convinced. It is not so much a book about Greece as a book about Miller--and that's just dandy, Miller has a fascinating mind, a personality at once given to passion and judgment. His convictions are frantically, at times, beautifully written, but in other instances they simply become tiring, a never ending rampage and tribute to...more
John Ross
This book, which is generally categorized as a "travel book", was recommended to me as a "must read" prior to a trip to Greece. Overall, the book was a very worthwhile read, but like most things had pluses and minuses. On the minus side there were two drawbacks for me: (1) the paragraphs were almost all long, block (taking up most of the page and scant dialogue) and cumbersome beasts written in a 1940's style, and (2) it was a slow slog to get through the book's first 80 pages (it's first sectio...more
Anja Weber
Een vriend raadde me aan De kolossus van Maroussi te lezen en leende me zijn exemplaar. Toen ik aan dit boek begon wist ik niet zo goed wat ik ervan moest verwachten en het duurde een hele poos voordat ik echt door het verhaal gegrepen werd. Eigenlijk pas in deel drie, het laatste deel van het boek, kreeg ik de smaak te pakken.

De schrijfstijl is erg mooi, maar eigenlijk gebeurt er het hele boek vrij weinig. Het is dan ook een non-fictie werk waarin Henry Miller zijn reis door Griekenland en de...more
Jenny Beth
This is the best thing that Henry Miller ever wrote, besides some of his letters, some pornography, and some of the foppish essays he did about his paintings. it's the best travel writing, the best book about greece, the best everything. It gives me hope as a prolific pedestrian pervert that i may write something singularly beautiful one day if i go to visit friends somewhere nice and a war breaks out.
Frank Farrell
A very opinionated man...often with a high opinion of himself, his friends and the idealized 'Greek'. Then a low opinion of his fellow Americans and the English. Obviously written before the word 'racism' was used..but surely he knew the word stereotype? If he had been 22 when he wrote then it would not have been so bad..but for a man in his forties!

He wanders about, preaching to poor people about the joys of poverty and then uses his money to upgrade to First Class as soon as life becomes unco...more
Jun 10, 2013 Salamandrine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Monica
Travel within.

Vontade de viajar para dentro deste livro. Largar tudo e ir encontrar o Henry Miller numa das ilhas Gregas, onde, com toda a certeza, se deixou perder e há-de vaguear eternamente.
I really thought Henry Miller was incredibly shallow in his views of other people! The writing itself is good, but the book does not inspire me to think much of Mr. Miller as a fellow human being.
Matt Hobson
It is called the greatest travel novel simply because it captures the difference in philosophy between all places around the world and shows how the living of life itself is an entirely unique experience depending on where you live or have grown up. You can see clearly that Colossus of Maroussi was written by an ex-patriate wanting to be free of the American way. Miller writes in a whirlwind to the degree that I gave up attempting to keep characters clear and separate in my mind, especially give...more
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Henry Miller sought to reestablish the freedom to live without the conventional restraints of civilization. His books are potpourris of sexual description, quasi-philosophical speculation, reflection on literature and society, surrealistic imaginings, and autobiographical incident.

After living in Paris in the 1930s, he returned to the United States and settled in Big Sur, Calif. Miller's first tw...more
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“The best stories I have heard were pointless, the best books those whose plot I can never remember, the best individuals those whom I never get anywhere with. Though it has been practised on me time and again I never cease to marvel how it happens that with certain individuals whom I know, within a few minutes after greeting them we are embarked on an endless voyage comparable in feeling and trajectory only to the deep middle dream which the practised dreamer slips into like a bone slips into its sockets” 9 likes
“At that moment I rejoiced that I was free of possessions, free of all·ties, free of fear and envy and malice. I could have passed quietly from one dream to another, owning nothing, regretting nothing, wishing nothing. I was never more certain that life and death are one and that neither can be enjoyed or embraced if the other be absent.” 3 likes
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